What’s Cooking on Social Media?

Noah Gittell from The Atlantic (2014) perfectly describes Jon Favreau’s small-scale independent film, Chef, when

he said that, “at its core, Chef is a story of a man whose life is ruined and then redeemed by social media”. Watching Chef can give us some valuable tips on how to use social media to your advantage.

Make sure you understand how different social media sites work.

Acclaimed chef Carl Casper’s ignorance on how Twitter works results in his downfall at the beginning of the film. After receiving a negative review from a food critic, he unknowingly tweets at him, when he thinks he is sending a direct message.

“@RamsyMichel You wouldn’t know a good meal if it sat on your face.”

Once the critic saw Carl’s tweet he retweeted it, resulting in over 100,000 people seeing their budding Twitter feud and Casper gaining over 2,000 followers in a day. His accidental tweet got him a lot of attention, and backlash from his boss. (Chef, 2014)

Once it’s on the Internet, it’s everywhere.

Carl’s confusion on how Twitter works and resulting feud with the critic leads to a public meltdown that ends up being recorded and going viral on YouTube. His ex-wife’s publicist in the film does a good job of explaining the effects of viral videos. She tells him that, “it’s out there! Even if I can persuade one site to pull out one clip, there are dozens of others” (Chef, 2014). Side X Side Creative (2014) tells us that social media means “you have to be more and more diligent about customer service and how you present yourself”. Even if you’re not on social media everyone else is and has the ability to see what’s on the Internet about you.

Use elements of social media to your advantage.

Even though Carl was getting attention for negative things, his son Percy found a way to make that negative into a positive. With over 20,000 followers Percy used Carl’s Twitter to announce that he was back and ready for business with a new food truck using the hashtag #ElJefeFoodTruck. Golden Speed SEO (2014) explained that the food truck team used location hashtags as well to make the food truck easy to find.

Be consistent and be frequent.

Percy began to branch out and set up profiles for the truck on other social media sites, such as Vine, after their first stop. Percy chose to use the same usernames and hashtags on all the different social media sites, which made it easier for followers to find them from site to site. In addition to being consistent in the social media profiles, Percy was also frequently updating the truck’s various sites. The updates allowed people to know where the truck was and create a connection with Carl. Side X Side Creative (2014) said that, “a good social media strategy […] should be about fostering [a] connection, […] not just about broadcasting your own message”.

Not only does Chef offer valuable lessons on using social media, it also showed Favreau how effective it is in reality.

The film was released on just six screens in May 2014, with almost primarily word-of-mouth marketing. There weren’t billboards or flashy commercials to advertise for it like big budget films. In an interview with Bloomberg West on June 9, 2014, Favreau said that the film was able to “bubble up” from 2 cities to over a thousand screens “all thanks to social media”. He explained that the use of social media is important in helping smaller budget events gain publicity, the “size of an audience in the independent film world really is impacted by social media”. (“Jon Favreau: I Fixed Wall Street Air Conditioners”, 2014).



Chef, a cooking movie with social media recipes. (2014, November 17). Retrieved from http://goldenspeedseo.com/social-media-marketing/chef-a-cooking-movie-with-social-media-recipes/

Chef 2014, motion picture, Aldamisa Entertainment, Los Angeles, USA, J favreau.

Gittell, N. (2014, May 9). Finally, a Movie Portrays Social Media as Something Other Than Evil. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/05/chef-finally-a-break-from-hollywooods-cynicism-about-social-media/361823/

Jon Favreau: I Fixed Wall Street Air Conditioners. (2014, June 9). Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/b/ce3b4e04-f8cc-4982-ae41-848871a6afcb

Six social media lessons from the movie Chef. (2014, June 10). Retrieved from http://sidexsidecreative.com/2014/06/10/six-social-media-lessons-from-the-movie-chef/ 



  1. closetclass · April 13, 2015

    I think all of these steps on how to properly use social media are extremely important! Each social media site is different, so it’s best to know if you’re sending somebody a direct message or posting it publicly for everybody to see. Also, now that social media is so prevalent, it’s important to know that whatever you post is basically always going to exist on the Internet, even if you think you’ve taken it down. Despite these facts, Internet fame can still be a possibility even with a twitter mishap like the one in this movie. I like this example because it pretty accurately describes how people can be hated on the Internet one second and then forgiven the next. Just by taking these tips into account, anybody can recover from an embarrassing twitter post or, better yet, avoid one in the first place.



  2. screenblab · April 14, 2015

    -Written by Rachel


  3. coloredcougar · April 14, 2015

    I think this article is so relevant and informative! I haven’t seen the movie Chef, but now I’m really interested to check it out so I can see these social media tactics acted out. My blog is based on fashion and I always come across fashion brands using one central hashtag across all social media channels. It’s interesting that they did this in the movie too and applied it to a food truck brand. I think it’s really important to keep hashtags consistent across all social media channels because it helps market the brand cohesively. I also think an important thing to consider is the idea that once something is on the internet, it is out there for good. A lot of brands and people forget this which can be what leads to negative publicity. It’s definitely interesting how in Chef, they figure out a way to spin the negative publicity into good press.

    – Kirby Collett


  4. kostem · April 23, 2015

    The power of social media to make or break someone or some organization will never cease to amaze me. The power of social media has created a fear, never before experienced by the American public, that has manifested itself as the main plot in many films and books. I think that if you are an organization you should have to take a mandatory social media class because using social media as a business is very different than as a normal person. I’m sure that within several years there will be a sub-genre of movies that have social media as it’s main plot.

    -Ali Robert


  5. kostem · April 23, 2015

    I love the way that this movie portrays social media. It shows both the positive and negative sides in a very realistic way. It also teaches the audience how to use social media effectively without being too obvious. I have seen the movie, but never saw a commercial or billboard advertisement for it, and now that I know that they just let the power of social media influence people to see it, I think that is awesome. They took a major theme from the movie and used it in the real world. It just goes to show how powerful social media is and the impact that it can have on any business, big or small.

    -Erin Kost


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